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Anthony Weiner Is Starved for Attention, Not Sex

After allegations that the former New York Congressman sent sexts—one image included Weiner’s four-year-old son—to a random woman on Twitter, Huma Abedin announced she was separating from her husband

Rachel Shukert
August 30, 2016
John Moore/Getty Images
Anthony Weiner, then a leading candidate for New York City mayor, reacts during a press conference in New York City, July 23, 2013. John Moore/Getty Images
John Moore/Getty Images
Anthony Weiner, then a leading candidate for New York City mayor, reacts during a press conference in New York City, July 23, 2013. John Moore/Getty Images

This truly is the Year of Women. Hillary is about to be elected the first female president of the United States (knock on wood). Straight men are starting to use the phrase “rape culture” unironically. And Huma Abedin, the once and future chief of staff to would-be president Hillary Clinton, is finally breaking up with her husband, disgraced former congressman (a phrase used so often it’s basically part of his legal first name) Anthony Weiner.

Why? Oh, I think you all know why. He’s allegedly been sexting—again—with a woman on the internet. This time (wonder of wonder, irony of ironies), his sexting partner is a 40-year-old divorcee who is an avowed Donald Trump and NRA fan who has repeatedly reportedly shared her support for both on the internet—that Wild West Weiner so woefully has repeatedly misunderstood how to use three times. Only this time, the offending photo—the straw that finally, publicly dissolved one of the most puzzling relationships in political history (rumor has it that the couple has been privately estranged for some time)—involved an image of the couple’s young son, Jordan.

Oh, and Daddy’s penis.

That’s right. According to the New York Post, Anthony Weiner sent a photo of his baby and his semi to a rando Trump-voting stranger he DM’ed on Twitter more than a year ago. At some point, even the formidable Huma, whose ability to withstand public humiliation might even surpass the superhuman precedent set by her boss, had to throw in the towel. (It should be noted that their exchanges, which began in early 2015, are ridiculous.)

And good for Huma, you know? She’s brilliant, glamorous, about to become dizzyingly powerful, and she deserves better. There’s a sad lesson here about how powerful women rarely manage to find men who are worthy of them, and how men—even well-meaning, outwardly supportive, “woke” men—still have trouble accepting the truth that their primary role may be of helpmeet. People talk about Bill Clinton subconsciously sabotaging his wife when he goes off-piste during remarks, or leaving other various little messes she is expected to clean up after and apologize for (and this after a previous presidential mess involving Monica Lewinsky).

But Weiner? Really? You’re sending dick pics you have to know by now will ultimately be splashed across the cover of the Post with some humiliating headline (“Pop Goes the Weiner” is good, if not quite destined for the Post Hall of Fame.) Lessons, Weiner has not yet learned.

You have to almost feel for the guy. He obviously can’t help himself. He obviously feels lonely and neglected (which, might I add, is not Huma’s fault. If he’d never figured out how to take a photo with his phone, he might still be a congressman.)

When Weiner was given a choice between a life in obscurity, taking care of his son, going to the park and the playground, buying cookies in delis and otherwise bumming around New York while doing a bit of freelance journalism on the side—you know, the kind of life people expect women to be satisfied with—or abject humiliation and universal censure for himself and his family, and he chose the latter. (Trump, that bastion of family values, is already extrapolating all kinds of dark theories about Weiner, whom he called “a perv”).

But guess what? Weiner isn’t addicted to sex, he’s addicted to attention. Huma will be fine. But Anthony Weiner will always be Anthony Weiner. It’s up to him—and a very capable therapist—to figure out precisely what he wants that to mean.

Rachel Shukert is the author of the memoirs Have You No Shame? and Everything Is Going To Be Great,and the novel Starstruck. She is the creator of the Netflix show The Baby-Sitters Club, and a writer on such series as GLOW and Supergirl. Her Twitter feed is @rachelshukert.